November 2011

Giavotella named to Topps Triple-A All-Star Team

From the Omaha Storm Chasers:

Former Omaha Storm Chasers second baseman Johnny Giavotella has been named to the prestigious Topps Triple-A All-Star Team, Minor League Baseball announced Tuesday. The team, made up of just nine total players, features five Pacific Coast League stars and four International League stars.

Giavotella, 24, hit .338 in 110 games for the Storm Chasers this season, collecting 153 hits including 34 doubles, nine home runs, 72 runs batted in and 67 runs scored. The 2011 Pacific Coast League All-Star starter was one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the months of June and July, batting .391 (90-for-130) with 31 extra-base hits during the two-month stretch. He was honored as the PCL’s Player of the Month for June and was also named to the postseason All-Pacific Coast League team.

Following his promotion to the Kansas City Royals on August 5, Giavotella hit .247 (44-for-178) with two home runs, nine doubles, four triples and 21 RBI in 46 games. He collected his first MLB hit against the Detroit Tigers’ Rick Porcello, singled a day later against Detroit ace Justin Verlander and belted his first-career homer off of the Tigers’ Max Scherzer.

The Louisiana native was selected out of the University of New Orleans in the second round (49th overall) of the 2008 draft. He hit .299 for Class-A Burlington that summer, .258 in 2009 for High-A Wilmington and .322 for the 2010 Texas League Champion Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

Giavotella is joined on the Topps Triple-A All-Stars by Bryan LaHair (Iowa/Chicago Cubs), Gil Velazquez (Salt Lake/Los Angeles Angels), Russ Canzler (Durham/Tampa Bay Rays), Devin Mesoraco (Louisville/Cincinnati Reds), Collin Cowgill (Reno/Arizona Diamondbacks), Alejandro De Aza (Charlotte/Chicago White Sox), Julio Teheran (Gwinnett/Atlanta Braves) and former Omaha Royal Jai Miller (Sacramento/Oakland Athletics).

 

 

Royals announce limited edition All-Star brick program

The Royals are offering an exciting opportunity for fans in conjunction with the MLB All-Star Game and related festivities coming to Kansas City and Kauffman Stadium next summer.  Through the 2012 All-Star Brick program, fans will be able to leave a lasting legacy at Kauffman Stadium by purchasing a personalized bluestone brick that includes a commemorative 2012 All-Star Game logo. 

Fans wishing to purchase a personalized brick for the holidays should place their order by November 13.  All orders received by June 15, 2012, will be installed in the grand walkway at Kauffman Stadium prior to the 2012 MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 10. 

The Royals are offering a number of brick packages, including the option to purchase additional replica bricks and limited edition All-Star display cases.  In addition, fans will receive an official certificate of acknowledgement bearing their inscriptions, and a brick locator map will be provided after installation. 

A replica brick, which is available as part of the All-Star Limited Edition packages or may be added to a Brick-Only option, will be made of the same bluestone material as the original brick at Kauffman Stadium and feature the identical engraved message and All-Star logo. 

The All-Star Limited Edition packages also includes an exclusive All-Star display case, which is available in two sizes and features the official 2012 MLB All-Star logo.  Fans who are purchasing a Brick-Only option or have previously purchased personalized bricks at Kauffman Stadium are invited to purchase the commemorative display case as a wonderful keepsake of the upcoming All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium.

A portion of the proceeds from the All-Star Brick program support Royals Charities.  Pricing details can be found at www.royals.com/bricks

 

Dayton Moore conference call notes: Sanchez acquisition

Royals General Manager Dayton Moore spoke with the media about today’s trade that brought left-handed pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo from San Francisco for outfielder Melky Cabrera

Moore described the deal as a good baseball trade that will be a wash from a payroll perspective.  He spoke extensively about how it would free up an opportunity for Lorenzo Cain to play centerfield on a regular basis.  Overall, Moore believes that the deal makes the Royals a more well-rounded baseball team.

As for Sanchez, Moore sees a dynamic lefty who is a breakout candidate.  He projects the soon-to-be 29-year-old as a solid third starter-type on a championship club.  Moore is not concerned about a left ankle injury which slowed Sanchez late in 2011.  He felt that the Royals needed to move on the opportunity to acquire Sanchez before it went away. 

Moore described Verdugo as a strong second piece to the trade, with KC’s scouts seeing him as a one to two inning lefty at the Major League level.  Verdugo was primarily a reliever until 2011, when he made 25 starts at Double-A Richmond.  He was a college teammate of Royals reliever Louis Coleman while the two were at LSU in 2008.

Royals acquire left-handed pitchers Sanchez and Verdugo from Giants for outfielder Melky Cabrera

The Royals have announced that the club has acquired left-handed pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder Melky Cabrera.

Sanchez, 28 (will turn 29 on November 19), has posted a 3.75 ERA over his last three seasons with the Giants in 85 games, including 81 starts.  In 2011, he was 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 starts before missing the final month and a half with a left ankle sprain.  Sanchez posted a breakout 2010 campaign for the World Series champions, going 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA, tossing 5.0 shutout innings in Game 162 vs. San Diego as the Giants clinched the N.L. West division.  The 6-foot-2, 198-pounder is 38-46 with a 4.26 ERA in 174 career outings, including 118 starts.  He tossed the 13th no-hitter in Giants history on July 10, 2009 vs. San Diego. 

Sanchez has posted 736 strikeouts in 708.0 innings, a rate of 9.355 strikeouts per nine innings which ranks as the third-best in baseball (min. 700 IP) since 2006, trailing only the Giants’ Tim Lincecum (9.87) and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (9.360).  He has allowed 607 hits in his 708.0 innings, allowing opponents to bat just .231.  Since the beginning of the 2009 season, Sanchez has allowed 357 hits in 458.0 innings, 7.02 hits per nine innings, which is the second-best ratio in baseball (min. 400 IP) behind Kershaw (6.70).

Sanchez, the Giants’ 27th-round selection in 2004, was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and now resides in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico.  He has one son, Christian.

The 24-year-old Verdugo was 8-6 with a 4.35 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A Richmond in 2011, his first season as a starter in the minor leagues.  The 6-foot, 193-pounder is 21-7 with a 3.14 ERA in 101 career minor league appearances, including 26 starts.  Verdugo, a resident of Baton Rouge, La., has allowed 185 hits in his 234.1 career innings, striking out 300.  The Giants’ ninth-round pick in 2008 out of LSU, where he was a teammate of current Royals reliever Louis Coleman, will be transferred from Richmond to the Omaha (AAA) roster. 

Cabrera, 27, hit .305 (201-for-658) with 44 doubles, five triples, 18 home runs, 87 RBI and 102 runs scored for the Royals in 2011.

Chen proud of his Royals Pitcher of the Year honor

While many 34-year old baseball players are winding down their careers, Bruce Chen believes that he is just getting started.  The lefty noted in a conference call today that he relies on experience and command rather than velocity.  Those attributes along with conditioning may help Chen reach his goal of pitching into his 40s.  Chen’s experience and hard work through conditioning paid off in 2011 as he earned the Bruce Rice Royals Pitcher of the Year Award in a vote of Kansas City baseball writers. 

Chen, who was very proud of the honor, was quick to give credit to those that helped him.  First, he mentioned his teammates, who supplied strong defense behind him along with offensive production.  Chen has worked hard as he continues in his return from Tommy John surgery in 2007.  He noted the work of two individuals – Ryan Stoneberg and Bob McClure – who helped Chen since he joined the Royals in 2009.  The lefty makes his offseason home near KC’s spring facility in Surprise, Arizona, where he has worked closely with Stoneberg, the club’s new strength and conditioning coordinator.  Stoneberg previously held the same position in the minors.  Chen credited McClure, his former pitching coach, with changing his arm angle and adding movement to his pitches.

Chen is currently a free agent and today is the first day that clubs can negotiate with free agents from other teams.  A second consecutive 12-win season has generated more early interest from other clubs this offseason.  That being said, Chen loves everything about Kansas City – the team, the organization and the fans.  He is encouraged and hopeful that he can return to the Royals.  Chen wants to pitch for a contending team and believes that the young Royals can do that in the near future.

Starter Bruce Chen named 2011 Bruce Rice Royals Pitcher of the Year

The Royals have announced that left-hander Bruce Chen has been named the 2011 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

Chen, 34, was 12-8 with a career-best 3.77 ERA in 25 starts for the Royals, leading the club in victories for the second straight season.  Last year’s Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner went 6-3 at Kauffman Stadium in 2011 and 8-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 14 starts against A.L. Central opponents.  He closed the season posting a 6-3 mark in his final 10 starts with a 2.93 ERA, including recording a career-long five-game winning streak from August 7-28.  Chen became the first Royals southpaw to win 12 or more games in back-to-back seasons since Charlie Leibrandt did so in four straight campaigns from 1985-1988.

Earlier this week, the Royals announced that first baseman Eric Hosmer won the 2011 Joe Burke Special Achievement award and that outfielder Alex Gordon was named the 2011 Les Milgram Player of the Year.

Alex Gordon conference call notes

Hitter, fielder, baserunner – Alex Gordon excelled in all areas for the Royals in 2011.  On Wednesday afternoon, he was filling his off the field role – daddy to one-year old son Max.  As a conference call with the Gold Glover and Les Milgram Player of the Year was about to begin, the Major League-leader for outfield assists could be heard saying “nice throw” to Max.  Yes, they start practicing early in the Gordon family.

Speaking of practice, that hard work was a key to Gordon’s breakout season.  He began playing the outfield in the middle of the 2010 season after being sent to Triple-A Omaha.  Gordon worked closely with outfield guru Rusty Kuntz at that time – then continued his progress this season with first base/outfield/baserunning coach Doug Sisson.  Alex overhauled his offensive approach in the offseason here in Kansas City through close work with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. 

Gordon expected his hard work to lead to a big season – but he was not expecting to be the Royals Player of the Year or a Gold Glove performer.  As for this offseason, he wants to build on his personal performance and the strong team chemistry.  He pointed to what the Cardinals did in their surprise postseason run as something that he hopes the Royals can do in the next few years.  Gordon stated that he loves Kansas City and can see himself playing here for a long time.

Alex Gordon named 2011 Les Milgram Royals Player of the Year

The Royals have announced that outfielder Alex Gordon has been named the 2011 Les Milgram Player of the Year.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

Gordon, 27, was a standout both offensively and defensively for the Royals in 2011 to earn his first career Les Milgram Player of Year.  Last night, he won his first career Rawlings Gold Glove in his first full season in left field. 

Offensively, Gordon set career highs in every category, batting .303 with 45 doubles, four triples, 23 home runs, 87 RBI, 101 runs scored and 17 stolen bases.  Gordon ranked 10th in the American League in batting while placing tied for sixth in the Majors in doubles, tied for sixth in the league in extra-base hits (72), eighth in hits and total bases (307), 10th in runs and tied for 10th in multi-hit games (50).  He was one of five players in baseball with at least a .300 average, 45 doubles and 20 home runs, joining the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, the Red Sox’ Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez, and the Yankees’ Robinson Cano. 

Defensively, the Royals’ first round selection (second overall) in 2005 led the Majors and set a Royals record with 20 outfield assists.  He became the fifth outfielder in the Majors since 1969 to post at least 20 outfield assists while committing three errors or less.  The Gold Glove was the 19th all-time in franchise history and the first since second baseman Mark Grudzielanek in 2006.

The Royals announced yesterday that first baseman Eric Hosmer won the 2011 Joe Burke Special Achievement award.  The 2011 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year will be revealed tomorrow.

 

Alex Gordon wins first Rawlings Gold Glove

Last night, Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., and ESPN2 announced that Royals outfielder Alex Gordon was awarded the American League Gold Glove in left field.  The awards were voted on by American League managers and coaches and honor the best individual fielding performances at each position in the American and National Leagues.

Gordon, a former third baseman, earns his first career Gold Glove in his first full season in the outfield.  He led all of Major League Baseball and set a Royals club record with 20 outfield assists, including throwing out 10 runners at the plate, while committing just three errors.  He became the fifth outfielder in the Majors since 1969 to post at least 20 outfield assists while committing three errors or less. 

The Gold Glove is the first for a Royals player since Mark Grudzielanek earned the award at second base in 2006.  Gordon’s Gold Glove is the 19th awarded to Royals players all-time and the seventh to an outfielder.

Below is a list of the 19 Royals’ Rawlings Gold Glove winners:

1971 – Amos Otis (OF)

1973 – Amos Otis (OF)

1974 – Amos Otis (OF)

1977 – Al Cowens (OF), Frank White (2B)

1978 – Frank White (2B)

1979 – Frank White (2B)

1980 – Frank White (2B), Willie Wilson (OF)

1981 – Frank White (2B)

1982 – Frank White (2B)

1985 – George Brett (3B)

1986 – Frank White (2B)

1987 – Frank White (2B);

1989 – Bob Boone (C), Bret Saberhagen (P)

2000 – Jermaine Dye (OF)

2006 – Mark Grudzielanek (2B)

2011 – Alex Gordon (OF)

The 18 Gold Glove winners will be eligible for the inaugural Rawlings Platinum Glove Award, with the winner to be determined by fan voting on the Rawlings, ESPN and ESPN Baseball Tonight Facebook pages. Voting is now open and concludes on November 7, with the announcement of the winners coming on November 11 at the Rawlings Gold Glove Award Ceremony in New York, as well as on ESPN Baseball Tonight’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Congratulations Alex!

Hosmer excited about future in KC

Eric Hosmer entered his first Major League spring training last February as a non-roster invitee.  There were varying expectations from baseball types and media members.  Some pointed to a breakout 2010 season that included Hosmer’s participation in the XM Futures All-Star Game, the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament for Team USA and the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Game.  Baseball America listed Hosmer as the top prospect in a KC farm system that was ranked first among all 30 across baseball.  Others pointed out that Hosmer had played just 50 games above Class-A prior to 2011 and was a year removed from batting a combined .241.  The result was a season that beat all expectations, even those of Hosmer.

The first baseman’s goal at the beginning of 2011 was to get a shot at the Major League level at some point.  The shot came sooner rather than later as Hosmer batted a sizzling .439 in 26 games for Triple-A Omaha.  His fast start resulted in a call to KC, where he made a much-anticipated debut on May 6.  Hosmer compiled a .293 average with 19 home runs and 78 RBI in 128 games while making spectacular plays at first base.  The performance earned him the Joe Burke Special Achievement Award from members of the Kansas City Baseball Writers Association of America and placed him firmly in the discussion for A.L. Rookie of the Year.

Hosmer has now had a month to reflect on the quick start to his Major League career.  He watched the World Series with a different perspective this year as he now knew many of the umpires and players involved.  He pointed out today on a conference call with the media that many of his teammates also exceeded personal expectations in 2011.   Several top KC prospects were expected to play at Triple-A this year and fight for a Major League job out of spring training in 2012.  Instead, those prospects made the Majors in 2011 and became familiar with the opponents and the surroundings. 

Chances are that the Joe Burke Award is the first of many individual honors at the Major League level for the just-turned 22-year old (birthday was on October 24).  However, his goals are all team-oriented.  He wants to reach the playoffs and win as many championships as possible.  He mentioned how fans around the city would stop him and say how excited they were about the Royals.  Hopefully that excitement is the tip of the iceberg, just as 2011 was for Hosmer’s career.

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